Happy end to day for Wooden Red camp

Wooden Red (Viktoria Gatu) scoring a decisive maiden win at Hastings yesterday.

Wooden Red (Viktoria Gatu) scoring a decisive maiden win at Hastings yesterday.

Cambridge trainer Chris Wood and his apprentice Viktoria Gatu made a large group of owners very happy when combining to win with Wooden Red at Hastings yesterday.

Wooden Red, who is raced by a syndicate of more than a dozen owners, was one of three horses Wood sent south for yesterday’s meeting and he ended the day on a high note for the stable when scoring a decisive win in the Roger Russell & Charlie Keenan Memorial 1600, beating runner-up Superveloce by two and three-quarter lengths.

Feroz was the first of the Wood runners and he tried hard under the urgings of Gatu in his second-up run, but had to settle for second, beaten a half-length by Snowdrift (bred and raced by The Oaks Stud) in the fourth event.

It has been a long time between celebratory drinks for Feroz’s connections, but it’s something which his owners are used to. He took 12 starts to win his maiden race, at Matamata in April 2014, and his second win was 12 months ago at Awapuni.

Judging by his performance yesterday Feroz could be ready to re-enter the winner’s enclosure.

Swissilicious, Wood’s second runner of the day at Hastings, was backed into second favouritism on the strength of an eye-catching second at Pukekohe and a sound third at Matamata, but had no luck over the final stages when short of racing room. The Swiss Ace mare wound up fifth, two and three-quarters length from the upset winner Red Tiara and looks a next-up winner.

Most punters shunned Wooden Red in the final event, allowing him to start at odds of 11/1, but he won like an odds-on shot.

Gatu bounced him out well to lead and, despite being taken on from the 800 to the home turn, he kicked on straightening to put a gap on his nearest rival. After being clear with 150 metres to run he held on comfortably.

Wooden Red was bought by Wood for $20,000 from the 2015 Select Yearling Sales and is a half-brother to Phar Cry, who showed a lot of promise when winning four races for Cambridge owner-trainer and breeder Lorraine Sullivan.

Wooden Red is a three-year-old gelding by Redwood from Chockaholic, a Te Rapa winner over 2000 metres and Ellerslie runner-up from just seven races.

Wood has taken his time with Wooden Red, whose breeding suggests he will be even better as he matures and races over more ground.

After finishing third in two trials, Wooden Red made his debut when sixth at Dargaville on November 11. He was then ninth and 14th in next two runs, both over 1600, at Te Rapa and Matamata respectively and was having fourth start yesterday.